A Writing Milestone: 40 000 Words
I had to stop and write a post today because I just hit a writing milestone:
I have officially written 40 000 words of my manuscript. AKA half-way to a completed first draft.
I don’t know how good or well-written all of those words are, and I have no idea how many of them will make it all the way to the final draft, but for now, I don’t care. I’ve written them. They are there. They exist because I made them.
I suppose I’ve written a lot in my relatively short life, but this is the most work (and words) I have ever put into a single project so I felt like I needed to document this moment.
All through the year, when people have asked me how school is going, I’ve never quite known what to say.
“Good!” I usually answer. “I love it. I’m so happy I get to write every day and I love my program!”
I think that’s a pretty satisfactory answer but then people always ask:
“How’s the book going?”
I don’t mind this question at all. In fact, I’m always flattered and grateful that my friends, family, and co-workers are interested enough in my projects to ask. But I never quite know how to answer.
The truth is that I don’t really know how the book is going. I’m so deeply immersed in the first draft process that I can’t really see the big picture yet. I think it’s going well. But I have no perspective on this thing yet. It’s still growing and evolving and I’m still learning how the hell to write a book in the first place!
So I usually resort to telling people how far along I am in the process. Using numbers to explain where I’m at makes my progress seem real and that feels really good. It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something, even when I can’t see the big picture or fully understand what this book is going to look like in the end.
Back in October, I remember so clearly someone asking me:
“How’s the book going?”
“Well, I’ve got 12 000 words,” I answered. “So it’s not nothing.”
More recently, I felt like I was saying “Well, I’ve got 32 000 words” over and over and over again. But then, suddenly, there it was on the bottom of my screen, the number 40 000. The halfway point.
What can I say I’ve learned so far?
Even when you don’t know exactly where you’re going. Even when you can’t remember why you started writing a book in the first place. Even when you’re so immersed in a creative stupor that you can’t see the forest for the trees.
Keep Going. Don’t Give Up.
The only way to tackle a big project is to take it on in small pieces. One little word at a time.